TED Talks that will make you assess your team culture

By Robert Half on 27 June 2016

Building a healthy team culture with engaged and happy employees creates cohesion, productivity and efficiency.

Are you successful in building an engaging team culture? Discover how you can use these inspiring TED Talks to build an effective team culture within your own business.


In the TED talk “Why good leaders make you feel safe”, leadership expert Simon Sinek outlines why being a good leader is about building trust and cooperation. Sinek says what weakens an organisation is an atmosphere where individuals feel they need to protect themselves from one another.

“When we feel safe inside the organisation, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths, and work tirelessly to face the dangers on the outside and seize the opportunities.” What’s more, he emphasises that leaders aren’t just those in authority – a leader isn’t always your boss.

Key takeaway: One way to develop your leadership skills is by creating an environment where employees feel secure and trusted. Think about how you can achieve this in your business either by providing career opportunities, training or even jut support, so that your staff can build on their self-confidence and aren’t afraid to try new things to achieve more for themselves and consequently, the business.


In its simplest form, negotiation is a discussion between two parties or more to reach an agreement that everyone is happy with – and it is in this simplest of forms that Brazilian CEO, Ricardo Semler demonstrates himself to be an exemplary negotiator. Semler negotiated every aspect of his business and grew the revenue of Semco Partners from US$4 million in 1982 to US$212 million by 2003.

In the “How to run a company with (almost) no rules” TED Talk, Semler shares a practice that will change how your business runs. The method he takes the audience through, is one that breaks down traditional barriers, giving employees what they need to succeed in life and not just in business. He focuses on reworking everything from how staff should dress to what kind of financial information you should disclose.

Key takeaway: From large to small businesses, it’s important to empower employees and let them make decisions for themselves. Foster a team culture where people feel purposeful, self-determining and autonomous. This will enable you to work together to achieve common goals for the business.


The “Marshmallow challenge” was created by Tom Wujec, an author and web designer who helps companies work in the emerging field of visualisations to help teams solve complex problems as a group. His challenges were designed to demonstrate how successful teams need to collaborate and innovate in order to overcome the challenges that business can throw at them. In the process, Wujec explains how teams can learn to solve problems and understand ideas shared by one another to achieve greater success.

Key takeaway: Problem-solving is a collaborative and iterative process. But in order for problem-solving to be truly successful, as a leader, you need skills of facilitation and problem-solving skills. By being able to understand and manage the process, you can significantly improve team performance. Specialised skills and facilitation skills are the combination that leads to business success.


Dan Pink has done many things in his life – not least working as a speechwriter for Al Gore – but perhaps the most interesting work he’s doing is sparking “a right-brain revolution in the career marketplace”. Pink’s TED Talk, “The puzzle of motivation”, shows how traditional methods of encouraging productivity are not working and how we can look to the successes of forward-thinking companies to impact overall performance.

Key takeaway: You need to start thinking of motivation as an unseen intrinsic drive and the need to do things for ourselves, rather than something that is born out of reward or punishment. Think about how you can foster a work culture around staff wanting to do things because they matter, they’re interesting or part of something important.


Demonstrating that simple hacks can make a huge difference to how we work and what we can produce,  Nilofer Merchant, Corporate Director, shares the innovative trick that has changed the way she works – and how she influences others around her to work.

“There’s an amazing thing about getting out of the box that leads to out-of-the-box thinking. Fresh air leads to fresh ideas.” This quick TED Talk, “Got a meeting? Take a walk”, might just lead to a quick change that builds a totally different team culture in your organisation.

Key takeaway: Think about the small changes you can make in your day-to-day that can drastically alter team culture. Merchant explains how walking during meetings not only changed her sedentary lifestyle at work but also drove fresh thinking and new ideas. What can you do in your business to achieve the same?

Finding the right cultural fit for yourself and the team you hire is an essential part of any organisation. Use these insights to make your team culture an engaging and inspiring one.

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